To study whether psychiatry received differing treatment in newspapers than the other medical specialities, and whether tabloids were more negative in their coverage of general medicine and psychiatry than broadsheets. We conducted a survey of all headlines in all daily newspapers in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium over a one-month period and judged whether the content was essentially positive, neutral or negative.
There was no significant difference between articles on general medicine and psychiatry with respect to the tone of the article. Whereas negative articles about medicine focused on both doctor and patient to the same extent, negative articles on psychiatry tended more often to describe the patient. Broadsheets published more negative than positive articles, while tabloids published an equal proportion of negative and positive articles.
There appears to be no difference in tone with respect to articles on general medicine and psychiatry, respectively. Nevertheless, the fact that negative articles on psychiatry tend to focus more exclusively on the patient points towards continuing stigmatisation of the psychiatric patient. Finally, broadsheets tend to be more negative in covering both general medicine and psychiatry, which contrasts with earlier findings.
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